Winter Records


I haven’t had much time since school started up again to listen to records, obviously not to write, and I definitely haven’t had time to go record shopping, but I picked some albums up over Winter Break, and I wanted to show them off.

Born In The U.S.A. // Bruce Springsteen

This one still has the shrink wrap on it and a sticker! Lin says the shrink and stickers make albums more collectible, so I always keep an eye out for them. I actually waited a couple of weeks to buy this copy, before deciding that an album as iconic as Born In The U.S.A., in such beautiful condition, deserved a loving home. I’ve been listening to this album on repeat since I got my new record player, and it sounds just as pretty as it looks.

Sweet Forgiveness // Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Raitt. I knew her name, because she and Jackson Browne are pals, but I never listened to her. Then, while listening to No Nukes: The Muse Concerts for a Non-Nuclear Future, I heard “Angel From Montgomery” and “Runaway,” and, basically, I’ve been in love ever since. This album has so many pretty songs on it.

Some Girls // The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones are another band I just never got around to listening to. Then I decided that I wanted to learn to like The Rolling Stones, so I like The Rolling Stones now. I’ve liked this album for a while, but I was holding out to buy an original copy (you can tell it’s an original, because all of the celebrities are featured on the sleeve), and I finally found it!

Willie And The Poor Boys // Creedence Clearwater Revival

CCR albums are hard to find; like The Doors’ albums, no one seems to want to sell them in nice condition at a conscionable price. So, I was happy to find this album, which has a special place in my heart. It’s the classic rock album I loved before I loved classic rock; I was writing the lyrics to “Fortunate Son” on my arms before I even knew who Jackson Browne is.

Also pictured are Simon & Garfunkel’s Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. and JSD Band’s Travelling Days. I’ve talked about this Simon & Garfunkel album before, but I wasn’t familiar with JSD Band before Lin gifted me this promo copy for Christmas.


New Year, New Natalie

So, I got a tattoo.

This, granted, is something I’ve been talking about for a long time, but I seriously started considering a tattoo in March, when my boyfriend and I were sitting in traffic, trying to get to Dodgers Stadium to see Billy Joel.

I initially wanted to get an eagle tattooed on my forearm, but that seemed excessive. Keeping music in mind, I shuffled through half a dozen ideas, including a crescent moon, in honor of my spiritual mother, Stevie Nicks. Eventually, I decided I wanted my first tattoo to be song lyrics. That did almost nothing to narrow down my options. I considered lyrics from some of my favorite songs, including the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever,” Jackson Browne’s “Daddy’s Tune,” and the Eagles’ “Take It Easy,” looking for the words. I wanted lyrics from a song that I didn’t anticipate myself getting tired of. I wanted them to say something personal and meaningful.

In the end, the words I chose between were the Beatles’ “There Will Be an Answer, Let it Be” and Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty.”

“Let It Be” is, arguably, my favorite Beatles song (and, arguably, my favorite Beatles album). It has long been a source of comfort to me, one of the songs I turn to in times of trouble. As someone who often struggles with anxiety and an overwhelming feeling that life is totally pointless, that we’re all just floating through outer space with limited direction, that there is no answer, the idea that there will be an answer, that if we let it be the universe will show us an answer, is incredibly relieving.

“Running On Empty,” is, similarly, a source of great comfort to me. The last months of 2017 have left me feeling pointless and hopeless and directionless, trying with difficulty to care about the things I need to do to survive. Although I have ideas for the future and things I love and things I want to do in my life, I feel as if time just keeps passing without my getting anywhere. So, as 2017 came to a close, “Running On Empty” became my personal anthem, reminding me that it’s okay not to know what you’re doing or where you’re running, to feel empty and to keep running on.

First blog photo taken with my Pixel 2! Photo Cred: My Boyfriend, Steve

This is the tattoo I ended up getting, choosing “Running on Empty” over the Beatles’ lyrics mainly because it’s Jackson Browne and, as much as I love the Beatles, I will always love Jackson Browne more. “Running On Empty” is also the reason I love Jackson Browne as much as I do. I’ve mentioned before that “Rosie” is the song that made me fall in love with Jackson Browne, but I only heard it because I went out of my way to listen to “Running On Empty” and ended up listening to the rest of that album.

Getting a tattoo was less painful than I anticipated but way more surreal. I had to keep reminding myself that I was actually reclining in a tattoo parlor getting a tattoo, not having a scarily realistic dream. The font is my own handwriting, and I got the tattoo done yesterday at Mule Tattoo in Tustin, Calif. It looks exactly as beautiful as I hoped it would, and I am so, so happy to have it.

Despite the amount of time I spent thinking about getting a tattoo and my absolute confidence that I was happy with the words I had chosen, I’m still shocked that I actually got a tattoo. I think part of me was sure I was just going to keep talking about getting a tattoo forever and never get one. I feel like a new person.

Goodnight, 2017

This year, I rang in the New Year by spilling a glass of Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider on myself and my boyfriend’s couch. I also continued a tradition I started two years ago: Just after midnight on January 1st, I listen to the Eagles’ “Doolin-Dalton/Desperado – Reprise” and tweet these four lines from the song:

Now there’s no time left to borrow,

Is there gonna be anything left?

Only stardust.

Maybe tomorrow.

In 2017, I tried to live with music as much at the center of my life as possible. For Spring break I drove solo to Winslow, Arizona, to stand on a corner for love of the Eagles and Jackson Browne. I went to five concerts, getting to see Billy Joel, Jackson Browne (for the third time), JD Souther, Eric Clapton, and Timothy B. Schmit. I started learning to play the guitar. I started this blog to put in writing my music life, and I’m still here five months and twelve posts later.

In the coming year, I hope to be even more music-oriented. I want to attend even more concerts than last year, at least half a dozen. I’m making resolutions to find time for my guitar practice and to prioritize music over Netflix when avoiding my other responsibilities. In the next months, I’ll be looking for a high-quality turntable, befitting my ever-aspirational record collection, and I’ll be trying to put weekly record shopping on the schedule. I’m going to get my first tattoo: the words “Running on Empty.” And I want to keep posting here at least bi-monthly, as I work towards posting every week.

As the first day of 2018 comes to a close, I also want to take time to make note of my current favorite singers, songwriters, and bands, the musicians I’m learning to love, and the songs I’m listening to now. When 2019 rolls around, I’ll write another list and compare it to this one to see how the music I love has changed.

Favorite Singer-Songwriters and Bands:

  1. Jackson Browne
  2. Eagles
  3. Lana Del Rey
  4. Crosby, Stills, Nash & (Sometimes) Young
  5. Paul McCartney & Wings

I’m Learning to Love:

  1. The Rolling Stones
  2. Bruce Springsteen
  3. Badfinger

I’m Currently Listening To:


Happy New Year!

Timothy B. Schmit at the Saban Theatre

The Sunday before last, I saw Timothy B. Schmit play in the tiny, art deco Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. Although I’ve waited a while to write about it, I want to do so now. It was a sweet, lighthearted show, uplifting in a way I didn’t realize I needed.


Timothy B. Schmit, famous as a member of my favorite band, the Eagles, was a member of Poco, another favorite, before that, and, as I learned at the concert, his solo work is just as good as anything else he’s done. He played songs from nearly every era of his career, including favorites like the Eagles’ “I Can’t Tell You Why” and Poco’s “Keep On Tryin,'” new favorites like “All Those Faces,” and songs that, for inexplicable reasons, are not inordinately famous, like “White Boy From Sacramento.”

Quick note on “White Boy From Sacramento.” This song made a guy across the aisle from me intensely, vocally angry. I’m guessing it was the line “I dig surf music ‘cuz it’s so bitchin'” that pushed him over the edge. But this song and Timothy Schmit’s performance of it, as he pokes fun at himself with such good humor, is a great example of what I mean when I say this concert was sweet, lighthearted, and uplifting.

Timothy is funny, and he seems to know it. “You guys’ll laugh at anything,” he said, eliciting another laugh. There’s more to it than that though.He has this effusive, positive energy, and he’s a light on stage, kicking his feet, all but bouncing, bringing smiles to my face even when he wasn’t being funny. If this concert was anything to judge by, Timothy B. Schmit really enjoys what he does for a living, and his voice is just as pretty as ever.

This concert made me remember what I love about live music. Even after Eric Clapton’s iconic performance in September, I was letting the more stressful elements of my life wear down my enthusiasm for music. This concert made me happy again; it let me escape from my life for a few hours, and isn’t that the beauty of music?

It was sweet, as well, to see Timothy Schmit’s relationship with former Poco bandmate Richie Furay, who opened for him. Timothy seemed so grateful to have Richie open for him and humbled, as he put it, to have his former mentor open one of his shows. As the show wrapped up, Timothy had Richie come onstage again, respectfully giving Richie the honor of closing the show too.

After the show, in a move that is far out of character for me, I went up to the stage and asked the stagehands for a setlist. The lesson I learned from this experience is that when you ask for a Timothy B. Schmit setlist, if the first person says no, you just have stand there for long enough, and someone will eventually rip a setlist off Hank Linderman’s amp and hand it to you.

November Record Finds

After a solid six months or so of constant record purchases, between the autumn of 2016 and the summer of this year, my record collecting has slowed significantly. In addition to downsizing my collection slightly this year, I’ve become far more selective about what I buy. For now, I’m trying to only buy albums that are on “my list.” However, my lists and resolutions aside, I’m not above impulse-buying a mint-condition Elton John album for five-dollars only to decide to resell it. Here’s what I bought this month:


Joe Cocker’s With A Little Help From My Friends, The Soundtrack to The Graduate, Elton John’s Madman Across the Water, The Doors’ Self-Titled Debut Album, The Beatles’ Best Of 1967 – 1970, and Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band’s Live box set. (Check out the playlist at the end of this post for my favorite songs from these albums!)


This Joe Cocker record has been on my list for what seems like a very long time. Lin has been keeping an eye out for it for months, and he finally found it for me at a local record shop. This is one of those albums that I happened upon in a very roundabout way, via another Joe Cocker album whose title song is a Jackson Browne cover. With a Little Help From My Friends struck me immediately when I heard it for the first time, and it’s been a favorite since then. Every song is so good.

This Beatles album, similarly, is something I’ve had my heart set on finding. The later years are my favorite Beatles era, and this album has every single one of my favorite Beatles songs except “Dear Prudence,” “Blackbird,” and a couple of songs off the Let It Be record. Despite my love for The Beatles (especially you, Paul), this is only my second of their albums. Abbey Road and Let It Be are at the top of my elusive list.

Speaking of favorite bands who remain noticeably absent from my record collection, this is my first Doors album! I can’t speak to the causes of this phenomenon, but it’s been almost impossible for me to find even somewhat clean Doors albums for less than forty dollars. As someone who deeply loves Jim Morrison, this is deeply disappointing to me, but I’m happy to finally have this one. After all, their debut album is one of The Doors’ best.

The Graduate soundtrack is a great record too. The film is one of my all-time favorites, and the fact that Simon & Garfunkel did the soundtrack only makes it that much better.

Madman Across The Water, of course, was this month’s impulse-buy, but how could I say “No” to a mint-condition record, with the original lyric booklet still attached? Although it wasn’t on my list, it’s hard to say definitively that this was just an impulse buy. Some of these songs are so good. I may keep it.

And then there’s Bruce Springsteen. This box set has been on my list for a while. I don’t remember how I learned that this set existed, but I when I found out about it I immediately decided I wanted to own it. This album feels iconic: Bruce Springsteen’s best songs, played live over the span of a decade. I’m not even a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen’s music. However, I’ve been interested in Bruce Springsteen as a person, since I saw him on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last year when his book, Born to Run, was released, and that interest in him as a person has developed into a growing love for his music. Best of all, though: the box set I bought is pristine. I mean, to die for. Beautiful.

Eagles Anniversary

This week I’m celebrating my Eagles anniversary, the approximate time of year that I started listening to the Eagles, two years ago.

The Eagles were the first band I truly loved. Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner, Don Felder, Joe Walsh, and Timothy B. Schmit were the first band members whose names I learned. Desperado and Henley’s Building the Perfect Beast were the first records I bought. They’re the reason I learned who Jackson Browne is.

I remember the distinct feeling of being glad I didn’t know the lyrics to any of the Eagles’ songs when I started listening to them, because that meant I could appreciate their music, uninterrupted by my compulsive habit of singing along when I do know the words. I remember hoping that I’d never learn the lyrics, so I could always bask in the glory of music I swore I’d never heard the likes of before. Of course, I learned all of the words, to almost all of the songs, but even now I often find myself quiet, listening, totally awestruck.

The Eagles changed my life. I mean that, genuinely. I had listened intermittently to The Beatles and Fleetwood Mac and Creedence Clearwater Revival, but it was the Eagles who truly opened my eyes to an entire era of music I needed in my life.

All that to say, they’re still my favorite band, and I can’t believe it’s been two years since I listened to them for the first time.


Happy Birthday, Jackson Browne!

As anyone who’s ever had more than a few conversations with me knows, I love Jackson Browne. I know for a fact that even some people who have never had a conversation with me know I love Jackson Browne.

He is absolutely my favorite musician and songwriter. He’s one of my favorite people. I love seeing him in concert and am patiently waiting for him to make his way to California again. I’m hesitant to get my first tattoo, only because I can’t decide which of the words Jackson has written I want attached to my body forever. Honest to God, I’d drop out of school to be one of the people who tour with him. I love Jackson Browne.

And, because it’s his 69th birthday today, I wanted to type up a brief post and share some of Jackson’s songs that hold special value for me.


“Rosie” is the song that made me love Jackson Browne in May, a year and a half ago. The melody of that line, “Rosie, you’re all right,” is what did it. And the genius of the understated feeling in the lyrics.

“Rock Me On The Water,” as I mentioned in this post, was the first song I heard Jackson play live, at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles August, a year ago. I’ve seen him twice since then, but that first show has a special place in my heart, as does this song.

Jackson played “Something Fine” at the most recent concert I went to. It’s the song I’ve always wanted to hear Jackson play live. It’s the song I was humming, while I waited for my first Jackson Browne concert to start last year. I was so happy to hear it, at last. I think a part of me was always waiting for it.

“Love Needs A Heart” features, arguably, my favorite of any of Jackson’s vocals. I happened to set this song as my alarm one morning, a while ago, and I remember waking up to it, drowsy but overwhelmed by the beauty of Jackson’s voice on this track. I heard this one live recently too.

“These Days” is the song I mention when someone asks me what my favorite Jackson Browne song is. Granted, that doesn’t happen often, but, when it does, I have my answer.

“Hold Out” is the song (and album) that surprised me. I waited a long time to listen to it and regret waiting so long now. There are some really beautiful songs on the album, in addition to this one.

“My Opening Farewell” is the song I’ve been listening to on repeat this week. It shuffled in while I sat in my car, listening to music over the weekend, and it struck me as more beautiful then than it had previously. “There’s a world, you know,” he sings, “We’ve got a ways to go.” Indeed, we do.

Happy Birthday, Jackson.

It Was Kind of Cold That Night: October 2, 2017

When I saw Stevie Nicks last December, she talked about Tom Petty. She talked about how much she loved him as an artist, and she admitted that she wanted to leave Fleetwood Mac for the Heartbreakers in the late 70s. Then she introduced “Stop Dragging My Heart Around,” and that, unfortunately, is as close as I will ever get to hearing Tom Petty in concert.

Photo of Tom PETTY

I am heartbroken over Tom Petty’s death; far more so than I would have anticipated. I would never have claimed to be a great Tom Petty fan, but his passing hurts.

Although I love his enduring hits (especially “American Girl” and “Breakdown”), it took his death to make me realize what an icon he was, and I think that’s what gets to me.

I regret not appreciating him while he was still living. And I regret not seeing him at the Hollywood Bowl a couple of weekends ago. I could have bought tickets to that show. I thought about buying them every time TicketMaster reminded me they were still available. I remember thinking: “Maybe I should. It’s Tom Petty.” But I didn’t.

Now, in honor of Tom Petty, if at any point I think, “Maybe I should. It’s [Insert Icon],” I’m going to. Because, as I’ve listened to the Tom Petty Anthology on repeat today, I’ve realized that, even if he’s not my favorite artist, I would have enjoyed the hell out of that concert, and the memory of having seen it would have been a source of joy and peace and comfort to me, now that he’s gone.

Rest in Peace, Tom Petty (1950 – 2017).

Eric Clapton at The Forum

Slowhand Clapton plays the last seconds of the sweet, acoustic “Tears in Heaven.” He stands, as the applause fades, and his acoustic guitar is swapped for an electric. With no comment, no story, no introduction, Clapton steps up to the mic again. Because my familiarity with his discography is made up of just bits and pieces, I’m startled by the first verse of “White Room.” And I’m excited. The man is damn good live.


I waited a long time to see this concert. I bought my ticket nine months ago for a show Eric Clapton was supposed to play at The Forum in March, which was postponed when he fell ill a few days beforehand. Luckily, whoever’s in charge was kind enough to add a couple of shows to his September visit, and I got to see him play Saturday night.

When I bought these tickets last year, I had never listened to Clapton. But, working off the questionable concept that since I had heard of him he must be worth listening to, the knowledge that this was a 50th anniversary show, and my memory of being awestruck by Jeff Beck’s 50th anniversary show, I bought the ticket. Then I started listening to his music, and, lucky for me, I found that I love it. Granted, there’s still a lot of Clapton I haven’t heard, but there were only a few songs at the concert I wasn’t familiar with.

Jimmie Vaughan, followed by Gary Clark Jr., opened the show. I hadn’t heard of Gary Clark Jr. before, but he was so good that, until Eric Clapton walked on stage, I thought Eric Clapton wasn’t going to be the best part of his own show. One of my favorite moments of the whole night happened during Gary Clark Jr.’s set. As he covered The Beatles’ “Come Together,” the entire audience sang along to the chorus, and it made my heart stop.

Clapton played a few songs from the Derek & The Dominoes album, including one of the songs I was hoping to hear: the bluesy, acoustic version of “Layla,” which always strikes me as being sort of brilliant. “Sort of brilliant,” of course, doesn’t really do Eric Clapton justice, all things considered. And when I say, “The man is damn good live,” I mean, “The man is damn good live.” He turned 72 this year, and I’m sure you couldn’t tell if you were just listening. He’s still got it.

I don’t think he said more than five words all night, and four of those were “Thank you,” twice. He walked on stage and played a fourteen-song set, one right after another, intermittently changing guitars, playing songs from different eras of Slowhand, letting the music speak for him and itself.

He ended with “Cocaine,” and exited amidst applause that echoed loudly back and forth across the auditorium. We applauded, waiting for an encore. And we kept applauding. And waiting. And applauding. And waiting. And just when I thought he actually wasn’t going to come back, he walked on stage again to play “Before You Accuse Me.”


This is, allegedly, going to be Clapton’s last tour. Who knows? I’m glad I went. As I’ve told everyone who’s asked: It was fucking amazing.

Thanks, Paul McCartney

Earlier this week, I was spending time with my friend and record dealer, Lin, looking at a few albums he had picked up recently to resell. On top of the pile he showed me was Wings’ live, two-record album Wings Over America. As always, I reminded Lin that Wings Over America was the first record I bought from him. I followed with, “We have Paul McCartney to thank for our friendship,” which may or may not be true. Thanks anyway, Paul.

Even if Paul McCartney isn’t the reason I love Lin, Lin is certainly one of the reasons I love Paul McCartney. My appreciation for The Beatles has grown exponentially in the last two years, but I didn’t appreciate Paul McCartney as an individual until I heard Wings. And, if I love The Beatles now (I do), I love Paul McCartney.


Last week, I picked up Rolling Stone‘s Special Collectors Edition Paul McCartney issue. The newest addition to my small collection of magazines is part photo essay, part retrospective, and part recycled Rolling Stone articles reprinted for the benefit of my generation, who weren’t around to read them when they were published.

In the last pages, Rolling Stone also makes arguments for what they believe are Paul’s 40 best solo songs. They start with “Maybe I’m Amazed,” which I won’t fight them over.

And I don’t know how I didn’t know this before reading this issue, but Paul McCartney came up with the tune to “Yesterday” in his sleepI like his explanation for it:

“I have this sort of theory that all the time you’re inputting your computer with information from the world and one day it prints out for you. I think in the case of ‘Yesterday,’ it was an involuntary printout. On the other hand, it might be God. I’m not ruling that out.”


I’ll admit that the photos included are a huge motivation for buying these special edition magazines, but, as I read the articles collected in this issue, I had a sense of being given a glimpse into the mind of a creative legend, yes, but of a genuinely intelligent, good-natured, and positive human being, as well.

While I’m sure that being a McCartney fan in the ’60s had its perks (for example, Lin will always be able to talk about seeing The Beatles live at the Hollywood Bowl in ’66), I’m happy being a McCartney fan now. Paul McCartney has aged into a damn cool 75-year-old, and I find his thoughts on aging and critics, among other things, incredibly uplifting.

Unsurprisingly, The Beatles are mentioned in every article. In an article called “With the Beatles,” the author, Simon Vozick-Levinson, writes, “After all these years, thinking about what it was like to be a Beatle can still make [Paul] smile. ‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘It’s really quite a cool feeling.’” I bet it is.

In other articles Paul talks about his life philosophies (“Ah, let’s try and enjoy ourselves”), his religious beliefs (“I believe in a spirit, that’s the best I can put it”), and a message from the maharishi that he took to heart: “Radiate bliss consciousness.”


I’ll end with a quote from Paul, that I am taking to heart: “Just be cool and you’ll be all right … That’s rock & roll religion.”

Thanks again, Paul.